Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ontario hog industry urged to step up biosecurity

The Ontario hog and pork industry is being urged to step up biosecurity in an effort to contain Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus that has now been confirmed at two farms.

It became clear during a teleconference call that PED virus has been showing up on trucks and truckers returning from the United States for some time.

In the words of chief veterinarian Dr. Greg Douglas, environmental testing has revealed that “the pressure on Ontario has been getting stronger and stronger.”

Douglas said that’s why “the farmgate is so important for biosecurity.”

Dr. Marty Misener urged farmers to prepare for tight biosecurity on deadstock removal bins. The pickup truck should stay on one side of the bin and all farm traffic on the other, he said.

There should be no cross-over traffic where the deadstock removal truck has been.

When one of about 350 people on the teleconference call said it’s going to be difficult to find a site for the bin that’s clear of overhead wires, Misener said farmers could consider on-farm composting.

He said that ought to be a high priority for funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne said $2 million is being provided to the Ontario Pork marketing board to step up biosecurity measures, including construction of truck-cleaning and washing facilities.

Misener and Douglas both stressed that farmers ensure that any trucks coming on their farms have been thoroughly cleaned, washed, disinfected and dried.

But that’s clearly going to be impossible right now because there simply aren’t enough facilities in the province.

The Ontario Swine Health Advisory Board, the Ontario Pork Industry Council, Ontario Pork, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ontario Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are all working on protocols to counter PED virus.

One of the high priorities is figuring out a protocol to deal with trucks at packing plants.

With the disease now on Ontario farms, and those hogs being moved to packers, there is a high risk of cross-contamination or that trucks that have carried diseased hogs will move to other hog farms.

Misener said OSHAB hopes to have a protocol for packing plants ready by the end of the week.

There was a report during the conference call that PED virus has shown up at a Quebec packing plant. Douglas said there has been excellent co-operation between Ontario and Quebec.

Misener also said there has been “fabulous” co-operation from the farmer in Middlesex County whose 500-sow herd was the first confirmed with PED virus.

That farmer alerted all of his neighbours, supply and service companies and pork-industry authorities.

Douglas agreed with a farmer who said it would be a good idea to have truckers coming to pick up pigs at the farm stay in their vehicle and for farm staff to deliver the pigs to the truck.

The aim is to ensure one-way traffic to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Misener agreed with another farmer who said he thoroughly washed and disinfected his on-farm delivery chute and sprinkled lime around the area once he learned that the truck that picked up sows at his farm earlier in the day tested positive for PED virus.

Douglas indicated that officials believe they know how the virus arrived at the Middlesex County farm and that it was via “the distribution system” and that environmental sampling has been done at the distribution center.

He said the second outbreak in Chatham-Kent is a weaner-to-finish operation and it is “associated with another farm.”

He said that second outbreak is likely the result of the “general pressure” of PED virus in Ontario.

He confirmed that veterinarians have an obligation under Ontario law to report to his office any suspected outbreak of PED virus.

The province is picking up the tab for PED testing at the laboratory on the University of Guelph campus.

Misener cited two examples of large hog-production companies in the U.S. which have had a high degree of success keeping their barns free of the virus, even in Iowa where there have been more than 800 outbreaks since the virus first showed up in the U.S. in April.

He said those companies are highly focused on biosecurity and are disciplined about following protocols.

Those who want to know how to carry out truck washing, disinfecting and drying in cold weather conditions can find out on the Ontario Pork Industry Council website. It also has a listing of biosecurity measures every hog farmer should be following; that list is also posted on the Ontario Farmer publications website.